Cooking with Love–and Mindfulness

I love to cook. This fact has actually been a slight source of contention in my relationship from time to time. Has anyone else had this experience? I cook elaborate meals, not because I feel obligated, but because I want to. Having a warm, delicious meal on the table as my partner walks in the door feels good, because it requires a mastery of timing and kitchen know-how. Also, I love to eat good food, so it’s not like I’m being totally selfless here. Yet, at times, my partner has protested that I’m doing too much–that I shouldn’t feel like I need to have dinner on the table when he gets home. The thing is, I don’t just cook to feed him–I cook to feed my self, in more ways than one.

Cooking, for me, is an act of mindfulness. “Mindfulness” is that new buzzword people are throwing around, especially, I’ve found, in higher ed and health and wellness industries. According to Psychology Today,

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. […] Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

As someone who has always had a tendency to spend copious amounts of time in virtual worlds–through computer games, web surfing, smartphone apps, you name it–mindfulness is something I try to actively practice. Going for a walk, reading a real paper-and-glue book, and, yes, cooking all help me reconnect with what’s real and human.

There are few things in this world that smell better than onions, celery, and carrots cooking in butter.
There are few things in this world that smell better than onions, celery, and carrots cooking in butter.

Cooking, especially, is something that connects me not just to the present, but to the entire history of humanity. This is probably just because I’m a raging history nerd, but putting a whole chicken in a pot of boiling water makes me think about the millions of people throughout history who have performed that same act–maybe in a kitchen in a European manor house, maybe over a cooking fire in a temporary camp. That act, to me, feels so primal and ancient, it makes me feel alive and connected to a long tradition of preparing sustenance.

So, those are the kind of things I was contemplating today as I made a chicken pot pie from Ree Drummond’s blog. It’s cooling right now, and I have to say, I can’t wait for the boyfriend to get here so we can sit down and share it.

The crust started to fall apart when I transferred it, but that just gives it a rustic, down-home feel, right?
The crust started to fall apart when I transferred it, but that just gives it a rustic, down-home feel, right?